Tibetan authorities have warned thousands of regional officials they could be sacked if they are found to have failed to safeguard stability in the restive area or fled their posts at 'critical moments', a local newspaper reported yesterday.
The warning came ahead of the upcoming Tibetan New Year and the fourth anniversary of deadly riots there.
In a rare move, the Communist Party's regional commission for disciplinary inspection in Tibet recently issued a strongly worded notice requiring that all officials take every effort to safeguard stability in the remote Himalayan region, mainly by implementing precautionary measures and keeping an eye on people who may cause problems, the Tibet Daily reported.
'All cadres, regardless of who they are or their position, will be removed immediately, before being subject to possibly further disciplinary punishments' if they are found to have not done their jobs properly, the regional party mouthpiece said.
The region and other Tibetan-inhabited areas in nearby provinces have seen at least 16 monks or nuns set themselves on fire over the past year in a string of protests against a lack of religious freedom and China's rule.
Additionally, at least two demonstrators were killed in late January when dozens, if not hundreds, of local Tibetans attacked police stations and police officers opened fire in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in adjacent Sichuan province, as the ethnic Han majority celebrated the Lunar New Year.
One of Tibet's most senior exiled Buddhist leaders, the Karmapa Lama, said yesterday he was saddened by the self-immolations and that he hopes they 'will yield a change in policy that will bring our Tibetan brothers and sisters relief'.
But the Karmapa Lama, who fled Tibet in 2000 and lives in exile along with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in northern India, stopped short of urging an end to the burnings. In late November, he appealed for Tibetans in China to find 'more constructive ways to advance their cause'.